In 2010, we developed a Human Rights Policy for Gap Inc. Our commitment applies globally within our wholly-owned operations, as well as within our apparel supply chain. Our policy highlights our commitment to respect fundamental human rights throughout these operations, as well as our intent to support the promotion of human rights within our sphere of influence (for example, we have greater influence in our work with factories where our garments are produced than we do in our work on more complex issues, such as the labor conditions where raw cotton is harvested). You can read the full policy here.
While we issued our first Code of Vendor Conduct in 1996, and our first Code of Business Conduct in 1998, we wanted to go further with a comprehensive, integrated Human Rights Policy that applies to our entire company. Taking this step is both symbolic and concrete. It signals that social and environmental responsibility is not limited to one domain at Gap Inc., but is the work of everyone at our company. And it commits us to continually examine our operations and explore how we can fulfill human rights principles through our policies, our interactions with stakeholders and membership in multi-stakeholder initiatives, our social and environmental programs, and our community investment.
Drafting a policy is a critical step, but we recognize that continued implementation and execution will require ongoing work. Despite the progress that’s been made, there is still a need to actively safeguard human rights in the apparel industry. We know we have more work to do, and we wrote our Human Rights Policy, in part, to underscore our ongoing commitment.
To give life to the principles in this policy, we have identified both geographic regions and specific human rights issues where we see the greatest need for our involvement and the greatest potential for our company to effect change. Our immediate focus is on the four fundamental labor principles that protect workers’ rights, which are defined in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (often referred to as the “ILO Core Conventions”). These fundamental labor principles include the prohibition of child labor, the prohibition of forced labor in all its forms, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, and protection from discrimination.
We have also looked to various international charters and declarations to provide context for our policy, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR); the UN Global Compact; the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; and the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
The development of our policy was also informed by direct and indirect stakeholder consultation. We asked for feedback on our policy from human rights NGOs, such as the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and Social Accountability International (SAI). We also incorporated information from our day-to-day interactions with stakeholders, attendance at events focused on developing awareness about business and human rights and extensive consultation of the websites of human rights NGOs.
Our Human Rights Policy is a living document that will help to guide us in forming our response if and when human rights issues emerge in our company and across our supply chain.